What the heck is “moonshine”? A look at Melbourne Moonshine, Crazy Uncle Moonshine and Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine

“Moonshine” is now a fashionable word. You may know it as hooch, bootleg, firewater, rotgut or white lightning, or as just plain old moonshine. Some dictionaries will tell you that “moonshine” is illegally made alcohol while others will explain that it is smuggled liquor that got its name because it used to be transported at night.    

The story of the “moonshiner” seems to start in the 1800s in southern Appalachia, which stretches along Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. During that time, people would illicitly distill spirit because they saw it as the best way to make money from corn crops. Interestingly, according to the Dictionary of American History, the liquor they made was commonly known by locals as “brush whiskey” and “blockade”, and not many people called it “moonshine”. By the time Prohibition came around in the 1920s, “moonshine” was used to describe any illegal liquor.

Moonshine may conjure thoughts of bathtub hooch and smuggler bootleggers but, these days, the stuff is going legit. While perusing bottle shop shelves or online liquor stores you may notice a product labeled “moonshine” which certainly is legal.

What gives? What the heck is this legal breed of “moonshine”?

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Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine

 

Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine is from Indiana in the United States. It is made from 99% corn and 1% barley, and “rested” in used bourbon barrels. The fact that it is rested in used barrels may mean that it can’t be called “bourbon”, because bourbon must age in new charred oak barrels.

Over the years, this “moonshine” has grown on me.  It is a very drinkable sweet spirit – initially sweet with lively raw grain-led flavour, it tastes of corn fritters, fruit bread, buttery vanilla and honey, while toasted wood and wisps of smoke progressively intensify with burnt toffee and anise seed toward the finish. 

Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine may provide a drinker with a style of liquor that is a little bit different to the ocean of bourbon on the market. For one thing, the underlying corn spirit doesn’t seem to compete with heavy flavours of American oak or rye; the corn is just there in all its golden glory, and it tastes finger lickin’ good.  

Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine currently sells for AUD$39 per 500ml bottle.